Why This Matters

  • THE U.S. NEEDS 306,200 MORE OF YOU BY 2028

    Overall employment of community and social service workers is projected to grow by 11% within the next 10 years. Counselors who can work with those coping with drug abuse will be in particularly high demand.


    By 2060, an estimated 95 million people in the U.S. will be over the age of 65. This increasing elderly population is creating job opportunities for human services professionals who can work with the specific needs of older adults.


    Social and community service managers typically need a master’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be 21,900 new jobs in this field by 2028, a faster-than-average increase.

Our Research

We concentrated on master’s-level programs in human services for this list. Within this subject, students typically earn either a Master of Science (MS) or a Master of Arts (MA) degree.

Once we compiled our list of programs, we reviewed them on the basis of cost, outcomes, reputation, faculty, and flexibility. Then we calculated an Intelligent Score for each program on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 45 hours to write this article
  • 151 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 414 education programs we compared

The Top 26 Online Master’s in Human Services Programs

Best Online Master's in Human Services Degree Programs
Best Scholarship Opportunities
Youngstown State University
Most Affordable
University of Illinois Springfield
Best in the South
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
Best Assistive Technology Focus
California State University, Northridge
Best for Criminal Justice
Liberty University
Best Public Research University
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Best Christian University
Lubbock Christian University
Best Human Resources Focus
Western Carolina University
Best Private University
Wilmington University
Best Public University
The University of Oklahoma
Best in the Southeast
Regent University
Best Non-Clinical Program
Southeastern University
Best for Small Class Sizes
University of Northwestern - St. Paul
Most Flexible
Bellevue University
Best in the Northeast
Saint Joseph's College-New York
Best Self-Paced Program
Lenoir-Rhyne University
Best Online University
Amridge University
Best Counseling Focus
Post University
Best for Multiple Start Dates
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Best Child Protection Focus
Nova Southeastern University
Best Specialization Options
Capella University
Best Catholic University
Albertus Magnus College
Best Private Research University
Northeastern University
Best Exam Pass Rates
Wake Forest University

What You Should Know About This Degree

Although human services encompasses mental and behavioral health counseling, a master’s degree in human services does not always lead to a state-issued professional counseling licensure, which is required in most states to practice as a counselor. If your goal is to become a licensed counselor, you may want to consider a master’s in counseling program that is designed to meet the educational requirements for professional credentials.

Also, because the educational standards for human service workers are different than those of licensed counselors, a bachelor’s degree in human services is sufficient for most jobs.

Most human services programs, including those that deliver their courses online, have in-person field experience components. Settings for these field experiences can include community health centers, social services agencies, nonprofits, and more. The timing of field experiences vary by program. Be sure you review the program’s curriculum to confirm that you can accommodate these components in your schedule.

Human services can be a rewarding but challenging field that involves working with some of society’s most vulnerable populations. Jobs can be emotionally, mentally, and physically demanding. Human services workers must possess a variety of aptitudes, including compassion, stamina, patience, and interpersonal and communication skills. Your education will help you hone these abilities, but it’s important to assess if you have the necessary qualities before choosing this career path.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Online Master’s in Human Services programs:

  • Can I pass a background check? Whether as part of your internship or hiring process for a job, you will likely have to undergo a background check as well as a drug screening. If there are any situations in your past that may prevent you from passing a background check, it’s important to discuss them with an adviser to find out what your options are.
  • How are classes delivered? Online classes are usually delivered in one of two ways. Asynchronous classes do not have set meeting times. Instead, students can access their lessons and assignments at any time. Synchronous classes meet remotely at pre-scheduled times throughout the term. Determine which type of delivery format works best for you before selecting a program.

Now is also the right time to find out what the program’s admissions deadlines and procedures are. This information is typically available on the school’s website, or you can contact their admissions department. You should also consider your financing options for school, including financial aid, scholarships, assistantships, and tuition assistance from your employer.